How Michael Organ Weaponised the Family Court... and Sean Plunket
The subject of Mister Organ tried to do what he’s done before: weaponise and manipulate the court system. This time, he failed.
Today’s newsletter is something I’ve wanted to report for ages, but I have been waiting on a New Zealand judge to make a ruling. That ruling has been made — so here we go.
Two Police Officers Knock on My Door
On November 4 last year, I was in my apartment in New Zealand when two police officers knocked on my door.
I was back in Aotearoa to promote Mister Organ — a documentary about a man (Michael Organ) who has previously manipulated the court system to get what he wants.
The film was due to have its New Zealand premiere in three days.
I opened the door, and the two officers served me with a temporary protection order made by the Family Court, which included an order to attend an non-violence programme. I had not been violent in any way towards the person named in the court order, so I knew it was unjustified.
Now the thing about Family Court proceedings is that they are notoriously confidential. All the names involved are heavily suppressed. I’d go so far as to say violating suppression in Family Court cases is taken even more seriously than other courts in New Zealand. This is partly because the Family Court often involves kids — vulnerable young children — stuck in horrific situations.
Put this another way: as a journalist, you might be tempted to push suppression on a juicy court case — but when it comes to the Family Court you don’t dare push a fucking thing. Those names stay under lock and key.
I felt annoyed, because after five years of making Mister Organ, I knew who was behind all this, but I wasn’t allowed to talk about it.
The weird thing though? Well, New Zealand broadcaster Sean Plunket had already started talking about it.
He’d actually gotten those Family Court documents before I had.
Enter Sean Plunket
Before those police officers even knocked at my door, Sean Plunket had been tweeting about the order they were there to serve.
At 10.29pm on October 30, he tweeted a portion of it to his 10,000+ followers — tagging me in, then “pinning” it to his profile:
I had not seen it.
Then Plunket tweeted some more of it:
He also tweeted (he tweeted a lot) the notice about me being ordered to attend an anti-violence class. He seemed to be suggesting TVNZ should not run another documentary that I featured in (Web of Chaos), because of the order:
To Sean’s credit, the documents he posted had all the names redacted. Except they hadn’t been.
They’d been redacted with an old-school felt tip pen, and Twitter users quickly dragged them into photoshop and saw who was involved.
(I have digitally redacted the felt-tip redaction to make it an actual redaction):
In other words, when Sean shared those family court documents, Sean had also shared the suppressed names of those involved.
Sean Plunket had shared confidential details of a Family Court case he had absolutely nothing to do with.
Sean was loving it — and on the same day I was served by the two police officers, he tweeted portions of the document again:
To cap it all off, Sean Plunket also somehow knew the police had been to my house — and at 3.08am on November 5, he tweeted about that as well.
It’s almost as if someone involved in that Family Court case was just passing it all on directly to Sean to share.
Gosh, I wonder who.
I noted Sean had included the suburb I was staying in, which just felt like an added level of “yuck” for me.
I Call My Lawyer
Back to November 4.
With the legal documents in my hand from the Family Court, I got in touch with my lawyer.
They have assisted me since Tickled (when David D’Amato sued me twice in an American court), and have also helped me here on Webworm when cease & desists arrive (and keep arriving), along with navigating me through my Arise Church reporting.
As I mentioned earlier — I had not been violent in any way towards the person named in the court order (or to anyone ever), so I knew it was unjustified.
I indicated that I would like the protection order thrown out — and that I did not want or need to attend an anti-violence training course.
But there was another problem: The documents were no longer private: a broadcaster called Sean Plunket had spread them around willy nilly on social media, naming me publicly.
By now Sean had dedicated an entire segment on his online radio show to the topic, stating:
The judge who heard [the alleged victim’s] submissions was so concerned at what they heard, and found the body of evidence they presented so disturbing — so disturbing — that the judge immediately ordered [...] a temporary protection order against him, and also an order that Mr. Farrier attend a non-violence program specified by the court.
This is a very serious order. And it suggests that a judge felt there was an imminent risk and danger to the mental and physical well-being of this individual.
With this messaging all over social media and Sean’s show, I was also getting a lot of angry messages about me being violent.
Despite that, I couldn’t respond. Sean Plunket may have violated the Family Court’s suppression orders — but I wasn’t going to. My hands were tied by the suppression orders of the Family Court.
Remember that while all this was going on, I was in New Zealand to promote the film — and facing the prospect of all the media, including Kim Hill, asking me about the court order (which she did).
With this in mind, I wanted to say something publicly. Not able to say much, me and my lawyer settled on this (which I tweeted):
Last night I was served by Police with a temporary protection order made against me by the Family Court on 29 September. The order was made on a “without notice” basis. That means the order was made without me having an opportunity to object.
I have three months to apply to the Court to discharge the order. I will be doing so.
Now that I have been served with the order, I am advised it would be a breach of the Family Court Act 1980, and very likely a contempt of court, to identify the applicants in the proceeding.
So, I cannot really say anything at this stage about who has made the application. However, I can confirm it is nobody in my family, and I have not committed family violence against anybody.
That was all I could say on the matter.
“Farrier Wanted On Serious Criminal Activity”
Remember how I just said I was also getting a lot of angry messages about me being violent? I kept a few of them.
There were text messages to my phone:
There was discussion over on WhatsApp and Telegram groups:
There were the tweets:
I also noted one of the tweets was from Hannah Tamaki of Destiny Church — a church I’d been critical of in the past here on Webworm:
And there were the Facebook comments under news stories about my documentary:
It sucked. In interviews about Mister Organ, I had to choose my words carefully.
With the film’s New Zealand premiere rapidly approaching, my lawyer did try and get the protection order thrown out immediately, so I could talk more openly about what was going on.
Of course the person on the other end of that order was feeding it all directly back to Sean Plunket:
The protection order was not lifted — and remained in place as Mister Organ rolled out in New Zealand theatres, and the discussion about me being violent went on. Discussion I could not respond to in any detail.
But good news — a Family Court judge had agreed to hear my case at the end of the month.
Getting The Case Against Me Discharged
It was November 30, I was back in Los Angeles, and I’d dialed into a provincial Family Court in New Zealand via video link.
Leading up to the case, I’d submitted a bunch of affidavits (32 pages) essentially pointing to all the accusations against me, and the fundamentals the case was built on, being horseshit.
More affidavits (65 pages) were submitted in response to my affidavits, so I submitted more affidavits in response to those affidavits. They threw another affidavit in for good measure (55 pages). This was all incredibly time consuming and quite annoying.
The case was heard all day.
As New Zealand entered its late afternoon, Los Angeles entered its night. My apartment got dark — but I was in court giving evidence, so I could not leave my chair to turn the lights on. I sat in darkness, cranking up the screen brightness on my laptop to act as a kind of lamp. My eyes hurt.
Spoiler alert: Michael Organ sat at the back of the courtroom. He wasn’t in the witness box, and he wasn’t giving evidence. But he was there, in the public gallery, and he shot a look at me over the camera when he walked past to take his seat.
With all of the evidence in front of him, the judge threw the whole thing out. The temporary protection order was discharged, and I would not have to attend anti-violence training.
It was thrown out over three months ago on December 22 — but I still couldn’t report on it. Again — this is the Family Court. Suppression on all things.
But when that ruling came in, my lawyer asked the judge if I could report the findings, and if they’d drop name suppression. We’ve been waiting on that decision.
Last week — the judge ruled I would be able to report certain elements of the case. And so here we are.
What The Judge Said About… Michael Organ
The judge kept a number of names suppressed. People who had been dragged into the case. People who were, essentially, victims.
But the judge ruled that one name in this case that had been suppressed could now be spoken.
Guess who? Michael Organ.
The man sitting at the back of the court, eyeballing me from 10,000 kilometres away thanks to the internet. The man whose name appeared constantly in the court case. The man whose fingerprints were across nearly everything.
The judge’s ruling was 30 pages. I can’t publish it all, because it’ll re-victimise Organ’s victims. But I was allowed to print the following, which demonstrates the house of cards Michael had constructed, and how they all fell down (my emphasis in bold):
… to accommodate redress for Farrier while attempting to be protective of the core familial relationship, I consider that it is appropriate for this paragraph and the conclusions of my judgment only to be published with anonymisation as noted in the paragraphs now recast. I also record that neither Organ nor Farrier were the core applicant and respondent.
 I find that there is a family relationship.
 I have been met with a conflict in relation to the allegations of family violence. I have not found in favour of the applicant on the balance of probabilities.
 I have reached the view even if there was family violence that a final protection order is not necessary and that the temporary protection order should be discharged.
 The material that supported the original application was devoid of specificity. The duty judge was left with concerns but further information has identified that a number of the concerns raised by X related to a period of more than four years ago and even those allegations lacked substance.
 There was significant embellishment in the initial affidavit. When parties come to the Court to seek orders on a without notice basis, there is an obligation on them to be full and frank in their disclosures. There was not full and frank disclosure on this occasion.
 Moreover, there is considerable substance to the suggestions that the application was designed to impede the release of Farrier’s documentary. It does not make any sense to conclude otherwise given that the evidence is clear that X and Y had had no contact with each other for some years. Counsel for Y’s, submission that the internet engagements post-dated the application was on solid footing.
 Although X was emphatic that the proceedings were not born of the pending documentary film release date, the photographs that attach to X’s original affidavit all came from the promotional clip for the documentary.
 Y is in (...) and has no intention of engaging further with X. Farrier is in California and has no wish to engage at all with X nor Organ.
 There has been no collusion between Y and Farrier that gets close to triggering s 89. Y agreed to be interviewed by Farrier, and in that interview expressed concerns for X because of Organ’s actions. The interview took place some years ago.
 Standing back and looking at the matter as a whole X does not need protection from Y who only has X’s best interests at heart.
 As a result the order in X’s favour against Y falls. As a result the order against Farrier falls. As a result the order in favour of Organ falls.
 The temporary protection order is discharged and the application for a final order dismissed.
One line there (besides the discharge of the whole thing) is really important — “there is considerable substance to the suggestions that the application was designed to impede the release of Farrier’s documentary.
I have no doubt that Michael Organ was pulling the strings of this entire case.
It all happened as the film was being released, and I imagine in Michael’s world this protection order meant a chance it would somehow be shut down, or at the very least would gag me from promoting it.
Going via the Family Court was, in my view, particularly cunning — because there I couldn’t publicly defend myself, or really even explain what the hell was going on.
And of course Sean Plunket played into the whole thing — Michael Organ’s puppet. As Mister Organ demonstrated, Sean wasn’t the first of Organ’s marks — and he won’t be the last.
And as Sean furiously tweeted in the early hours of November 2022, someone else was joining in. Michael Organ.
And as Sean broadcast on YouTube… there was Michael Organ.
Like Sean, Michael also had no problem breaking the Family Court’s suppression orders. Because it was all designed for one reason: to hinder me, and the documentary.
As always, Mister Organ was there. He’s always there. He’s been in my life since 2016, and I’m not entirely convinced I will ever be rid of him.
The cost of getting this bogus case dismissed, not having to take part in a court-ordered anti-violence programme, and clearing my name, came to just over $25,000.
Thanks for being here.
PS: A quick update and FAQ on how Sean reacted to this piece.
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Mister Organ “How Can I Watch That” FAQ:
Because this article refers to Mister Organ — a quick FAQ for the very valid question of “How Can I Watch That?”
America: VERY SOON.
Rest of world: SOON.
(This is a complicated film with a complicated backstory — as illustrated by this newsletter).
That said, Mister Organ is playing on the big screen at the Overlook Film Festival in New Orleans on March 31 and April 2. I will be in person at both screenings and am utterly thrilled to be there. Nicolas Cage is also there premiering his new film at the same festival (his film is also about a bloodsucking vampire).
In New Zealand and Australia you can watch Mister Organ on VOD (such as on iTunes/Apple TV), or you can get the DVD: In Australia you have Sanity, JB Hi-Fi and Madman to choose from.
In New Zealand you have Mighty Ape, JB Hi-Fi and Madman.
When more information comes to hand, it will be on Webworm and on the Webworm app.
Thank you for your patience and support.
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Eleanor Catton had a run-in with Sean Plunkett too. In her latest book, one of the characters comes up with a delightful description. People like him are called "dime-a-dozen, grasping, self-important outrage-mongers, these obsequious nonentities, these small-time pseudo-pundits who traded in stupidity and called themselves subversive for shitting where they ate."
Revenge is a dish best served cold.
Yikes. Sorry you had to go through all that.
I'm fortunately not familiar with Sean Plunkett, but I imagine he's one of those rightwing media types who doesn't care so much if something is true or not, It's just weapon to be used.
The journalistic equivalent of holding your finger in someone's face and screaming "I'm not touching you!".